The 17th FINA Aquatics World Championships will feature 9 events in synchronized swimming varying from solo routines to free combination of 10 members. Mixed duet synchro swimming is a new discipline, it debuted 2 years ago at the World Championships hosted by Kazan and was featuring the European Championships programme of London last year.
Similarly to solo, duet and team events mixed duet is divided into 2 categories: the technical and the free routines. Regarding rules the same requirements apply to mixed duet as to duet women, however, concerning visual appearance the 2 events are quite different.
Even professionals of synchro swimming raised doubts about the legitimacy of mixed duet as synchronized swimming has traditionally been considered as a female discipline, just like rhythmic gymnastics. It was only back in ancient cultures that men were involved in ’artistic swimming’ to entertain upper class spectators, in the modern era this discipline has been based on female aesthetics.
Similarly to several other issues in synchro swimming, the initiative came from the US back in the 90s when Bill May, a renowned male synchro swimmer entered the US championship in 1998 and achieved victory in cooperation with Christina Lum.
They were highly successful in several other international tournaments, still they failed to achieve that official FINA events open up for men competitors in this discipline. In the end Canada, Italy and France demonstrated high interest in the initiative so since 2002 male swimmers have been allowed to enter international competitions, also.
Unfortunately it was not yet the major breakthrough in the discipline so Bill May retired from the sport in 2008 but he did not give it up completely: he took up a job with the world famous show, Cirque de Soleil and played an important role in choreographing and delivering aquatic shows.
The final push was probably the campaign in social and community media which resulted in FINA making the decision of including mixed pair duets in order to modernize the discipline and to open up new horizons at both continental and world championships following the short course world championships in Doha
The first official world championships welcomed renowned competitors (including Bill May) who had dedicated all their lives to the discipline but were never allowed to represent their country in world championships. The discipline debuted in Russia in 2015 with great success. Thanks to mixed duet it was not only men who could show their skills and make their dream come true, but a number of world class swimmers returned to the pool, including the French world champion Virginie Dedieu, the Spanish icon, Gemma Mengual and one of the most talented swimmers of the US, Christina Jones. As a matter of fact the mixed duet technical routine was the most exciting event considering the gold medal, since after the prelims Russians were in the first place, however, the final saw such an excellent routine by the American Bill May-Christina Jones duet that it resulted in a gold medal. Interestingly enough, although Russians were not committed promoters of male synchro their mixed duet of Darina Valitova and Alexandr Maltsev were so brilliant that they could easily achieve victory with their free routine and finished second with their technical one.
Several mixed duet swimmers will fight for the podium in free routines at the Budapest WCH. We anticipate to see extremely spectacular performances, unique harmony between the pair members and real show-like dance performances in water. Beside the Russian and American pairs Italians shall also be in the focus of our attention, the French and the Spanish pairs may also astonish us and the Japanese newcomers will also definitely do their best in July.
The 2017 FINA Aquatics World Championships will feature 9 events in synchronized swimming during 7 competition days: gold medals can be achieved in solo, duet, team categories, 2-2 per mixed duets and one in the special category of free combination of 10 members. The events will be hosted by an extraordinary venue, the charming, historic City Park Lake on which a 5000-seat grandstand will serve to accommodate spectators enjoying the championships.
More info and ticket purchase here: